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The Fighter

David O. Russell's 2010 film chronicling the rise of an up and coming boxer and his drug addict ex-boxer brother.

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4.5: A Real Knockout

  • Jan 19, 2011
Around the end of the year one of the things that typically happens is you get a lot of good... but boring movies.  The end of 2010 wasn't like this really.  Most of the movies driving for the Oscar actually entertained.  Usually far too many get themselves far too concerned with being artistic and intellectual.  Which is actually well and good, but they always miss the mark in terms of entertainment.  The Fighter does another turn around by being a film that isn't depressing as all hell.  It begins this way but ends up being something bigger and even uplifting. 

Mark Wahlberg plays Micky Ward.  A boxer down on his luck.  He hasn't won a fight.  His brother Dicky (Christian Bale) is trying to train him, but Dicky has his own baggage.  He's a crack addict.  Dicky used to be a famous boxer himself, it's why he trains his brother.  Perhaps his brother has a shot to get something that Dicky never could.  And for Micky it's hard to abandon his family.  Even when it becomes clear that part of the reason he hasn't been able to obtain much is because of them.  Early in the film they've got him set up for a fight... but his opponent gets the flu and Micky is matched up against someone who is twenty pounds bigger than him.  He loses the fight and gets terribly injured.  Things with his family don't get any better.  His mother and sisters all can't stand his girlfriend and Dicky, the guy who is training him, goes to jail.  It turns out that things begin to look up, however when he gets a different trainer and his girlfriend steps in to support him.  He begins to win some fights.  But this causes problems with his mother and his family as well. 

The Fighter is not a movie about boxing.  I mean, it is, but it's much more of a family drama than any kind of sports film.  Those going in expecting a new update to Rocky or something like that will be sorely disappointed.  Micky wants to be a successful fighter, but the most absorbing parts of the film are watching all the characters interact with one another more so than the fights.  In fact, the fights are few and far between.  The drama is what defines and ramps up the movie.  In particular Wahlberg does a good job.  Actually much of the cast does a fantastic job.  Melissa Leo as a deranged, controlling mother is so good it's hard not to look away.  Amy Adams as Charlene Fleming (Micky's girlfriend) is probably the most surprising.  Who knew Amy Adams had such attitude and flair?  The biggest treat is probably Christian Bale.  Not because he does such a good job but because he's the most entertaining character.  He makes some of the films harder moments easier to swallow by being a sometimes overexcited guy.  The entire cast just manages to do a really good job. 

If there was anything off putting about The Fighter it would be that the ending and the resolutions feel a little rushed.  I won't spoil anything.  Let's just say that some of the issues the characters face couldn't possibly be solved as fast as they are in the film.  Characters who hate each other suddenly have a quick about-face without anything pushing them to the precipice.  It doesn't make the final climactic fight any less intense (or less enjoyable) but there were still resolutions that were quick and almost without cause.  Everything gets wrapped up in a nice little bow.  But not without first being beaten over the head worse than Micky.  The movie has a few moments where it's depressing, but it provides a bit of humor every now and then and the ending in and of itself is extremely uplifting.  It might not become one of those films you watch when you're having a bad day, but it is still a movie where we're watching a very charming and sympathetic character rise above that which knocks him down.  In the end it's actually very inspiring.

The Fighter can, at times, be a brutal movie.  There are times when it hits hard, but for the most part it is a really inspiring movie in the sense that few movies usually are these days.  It's a good drama and one that I'd highly recommend. 

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January 20, 2011
You want entertainment? I'll give you entertainment...

Who's your Oscar winner now, baby?
January 20, 2011
Damn it, the monkey's not dancing. Take away his Oscar statue!
January 26, 2011
Sean reviewed TRUE GRIT. =)
January 19, 2011
Pretty sweet review, Sean! I noticed that it is a little shorter than usual but hey still as concise and informative as ever. Great comment on it being more a family drama than a sports movie. Thanks!
More The Fighter (2010 film) reviews
review by . December 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A Fight To Win In Life and in The Boxing Ring!
   Sports dramas that channel an inspiring ‘underdog’ story. It is pretty cliché nowadays in the halls of filmmaking. Well, director David O. Russell’s “The Fighter” stems from cliché but then again, sometimes real life is all about cliché. It centers on the real-life story of Irish boxer Micky Ward and his half-brother Dickie Eklund. This film is the third collaboration between Russell and Wahlberg, the first two being “Three Kings” …
review by . March 23, 2011
Let's just start off by saying I hate sports movies, there I said it.  I didn't cry when at the end of Rudy, I didn't cheer at the end of Rocky and I didn't bother watching Friday Night Lights or Any Given Sunday.  To me, they're all the same in some way or another whether true or not, an over dramatic story about how someone with nothing rises up through adversity and blah, blah, blah.  It's mostly due to the fact that I'm not much of a sports fan …
review by . March 27, 2011
Christian Bale steals the show and earns his Oscar.
The Fighter is a bio-pic about two brothers Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale).   Micky is a club fighter who's career is marred by being in a tough weight class, poor management and a lack of drive, Dicky is a washed out former contender who's biggest claim to fame was knocking down "Sugar" Ray Leonard. The film follows Micky as he rises through the boxing ranks and Dicky's crash and burn (he has a serious crack addiction and it affects …
review by . February 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Mark Wahlberg stars as Micky "Irish" Ward, a young man seemingly going no where in Lowell, MA. but with a dream of becoming the next boxing welterweight champion of the world.    He's managed by his mother and his brother. Christian Bale plays Micky's brother. In the film Bale has a drug habit and constantly lets his brother down, not showing up for fights and scheduling fights with fighters who are inappropriate for Micky. Eventually, Bale is arrested and sent to jail.    Du …
review by . January 01, 2011
THE FIGHTER may be based on a true story, but that doesn't mean that much of the skeleton of its plot doesn't feel like a rehash of Hollywood clichĂ©s. Struggling blue-collar guy from a dysfunctional family gains a shot, late in life, at boxing glory. Various obstacles get in his way, but with the love of a good woman and some unconventional training & methods…he gets his shot at the title. It's the kind of plot that would not normally get my blood pumping in anticipation.     But …
review by . April 16, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     David O. Russell hasn't made a good film since "Three Kings", which isn't saying too much considering there was only one other film between that one and "The Fighter", and it was called "I Heart Huckabees". I was not pleased with that film, and I didn't think it functioned well enough to be a true "David O. Russell film". Now here is what I would call a "David O. Russell film", and I say that with the utmost respect. Here it is, the film that everyone has …
review by . January 22, 2011
This was an absolutely wonderful film. I was absolutely floored by it even though I saw it with two people who were less than thrilled to be there. The performances were top-notch and this would be on my Best Movies I Saw in 2010 list if I didn't see this in 2011. Like The King's Speech, this is the perfect Oscar formula and that's sure to pay off come awards time. First of all, the Academy has often had a thing for uplifting dramas (whether or not they pertain to sports) and secondly, …
review by . December 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
As is the case with many inspirational sports movies, “The Fighter” uses physical competition as a metaphor for emotional competition. It’s based on the true story of Lowell, Massachusetts boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, who went pro in 1985, went on hiatus after losing four consecutive fights in 1990, and then made a comeback that lasted from 1997 until his retirement in 2003. His final match was a trilogy of fights with Arturo Gatti, but all events in the film lead up to …
review by . December 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Now that's what I call a fight!
THE FIGHTER   Written by Eric Johnson, Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy   Directed by David O. Russell   Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo       Before a boxer sets foot in any ring, he most likely has a plan of attack in place.  If he is serious about what he does, he has studied his opponent; he knows his strategies, his weaknesses.  A great boxer is in control of the game even when it seems like he might …
review by . March 09, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
The Fighter Will Keep You Interested, Just Like Rocky Did.
It is not too often lately that my wife and I  get a chance to see a movie, so when this came to our local theater we decided to take the night off from school work and just plain work. So, if you liked the movie Rocky then you will love this true story, The Fighter is rated "R" and lasts for just a shade under two hours. This movie starring Mark Wahlberg who portrays Micky Ward, who's rise to stardom mimics the Rocky movies a little bit. Micky goes through all of the trials and …
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #6
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this movie


The Fighter
is an upcoming film directed by David O. Russell and executive produced by Darren Aronofsky, starring Mark Wahlberg. The film centers on the life of professional boxer "Irish" Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his older brother Dickie Eklund (Christian Bale). Amy Adams has also been confirmed as a love interest of Ward. The film is set to be released worldwide in theaters on December 10, 2010. The film is Russell and Wahlberg's third film collaboration, following Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees.
Darren Aronofsky was previously attached to direct before David O. Russell. Both Matt Damon and Brad Pitt were also once attached to play Dick Eklund before the role went to Christian Bale.  Bale has reportedly been training for the role. About the film, he said, "It’s a true story of two incredibly gifted boxers who were half brothers. The one, Dicky Ecklund, who fought Sugar Ray Leonard at a very young age, when he was twenty-one, was an incredible natural talent. He lived a very hard life. Then he came to train his brother, Irish Mickey Ward, to the world title." Wahlberg also trained for two years for the role of Mickey Ward. A trailer was released on September 15, 2010.
Filming began in July 2009 in Lowell, Massachusetts and was completed by September. Filming continued at Paramount in April 2010 for final additional scenes.
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Director: David O. Russell
Genre: Drama, Sport
Release Date: Dec. 10, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Paul Attanasio
Runtime: 115 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures Corp.
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